How To Improve When You Can't Play Guitar

You don't know what to do when you can't play guitar, but you want to practice?

Ultimate Guitar

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We all have the time when we would like to practice, but we simply can't. On the bus, plane or at school, never mind where it is - there is time we can use to develop our skills. Surely, you can't practice tapping or any other technique, but there are numerous things you can do off the guitar, and I'll give you some ideas. Have a nice read! 01. Sing Do you sing? If you don't - try this. You play guitar, but by singing you can train your ears. Record some intervals on your portable mp3 player or other melodies and try to sing them out loud. But, be sure that it's clean! 02. Listen to music in analytical way If you're in a place where you can't sing, but you can listen to mp3, listen to music. But listen and analyze. Try to think out the way to play that great riff, or try visualizing the position in which the guitarist play. Do you like the solo? Think why. Maybe consider the rhythm of it or any other aspects of it. When you'll be back with your guitar, you'll surely be a better musician after that kind of practice. 03. Play in your head When listening to a record visualize the way to play the song in your head. See the fretboard in your mind, think of articulation or any other stuff that you would put in when you will play that piece.Think about music / scales / chord building - review theory 04. Review theory Do you know where are the flats in Ab major scale? If no, take a piece of paper and try to write it down. Do it with other scales, chords, and whatever you know about theory. This is the most helpful thing when learning theory. 05. Tap your foot How do tapping your foot helps in being a musician? Well, quite much, really. Try tapping various rhythms, for example, tap your left foot like it is a metronome and tap your fingers some fancy triplet rhythms, or any you like. Make a challenge and achieve the goal. 06. Strum Yes, strumming without strings sounds rather queer, but try it out. Some of my guitar-playing friends do it all the time, strumming their hip, huh. 07. Buy a squeeze ball and Squeeze that ball! You know that toy. Helps a lot with finger strength. You can squeeze with all the fingers, then try to squeeze with less than five. Don't squeeze any other balls, if you know what I mean. 08. Use your pc or smartphone better than chatting on FB If you can use your electronic device with internet, you can do all the tasks of learning theory at ease. Just buy some ebooks or look for free lessons over the net, use some software for ear training or theory reviewing. You have countless options with that one. Yes, turn the facebook off, please. 09. Read Magazines Read some musician magazines. You never know what you will find interesting and useful there. End of an advice. 10. Buy a harmonica That's an instrument that fits into your pocket and so it's easy to carry it around. Let the melodies out with that instrument. That point is not recommended for black metal musicians, your reputation will suffer. 11. Buy a guitar practice device Instead of a squeeze ball you can buy a gripmaster tool, or try some of the stuff called shrednecks. Google it out for yourself. 12. Watch DVD's Guitar dvd's. No movies of any other kind, man. You can watch instructional videos, as well you can watch concerts. When your mind is set to a musician mode, all the music-related stuff makes you a better musician. 13. Tap your fingers insanely Tap taptaptapTAP tap tap TAP tap taptaptaptaptaptap TAP! You can tap your left hand fingers in all 24 combinations of 1-2-3-4. Make them tap in control, you're the master. Try various rhythms and permutations. 14. Draw the notes of the fret board on paper Take a sheet of paper and draw a fretboard scheme. Mark all the notes so you can learn them easily. Try also drawing scale, chords and arpeggio shapes. That's fun and really helps you to visualize stuff on the fretboard when you play. You will really learn how to play on paper. 15. Give yourself a break Last but not least advice is to have a break. I mean, you know - some time off-the-music-stuff can be really good for you. Use it to relax, man. In closing Hope that helped. If you have more ideas, feel free to spread it out in comments. As always - please rate this article and comment. Also, see my FB profile at and press the like button. It's the greatest thank you for me:) Daniel Kaczmarczyk

5 comments sorted by best / new / date

    Good advice! I drive a lot at work and find myself thinking about chords and dissecting them. I determine all the intervals in my head. I think this helps understand the building blocks of music a little better, at least for me. I also tap my feet constantly. Like ALL of the time. I always have some sort of rhythm in my head. If I'm by myself listening to music in the car, truck, at home, whatever, I try to harmonize the vocals of the songs playing. Even if there is no harmony in the song, I'll create one. I can't escape music! I think I'm an addict!...
    Nice lesson! I do many of this stuff already. When I drive anywhere, I listen to the radio and how the music weaves its own patterns. When I sit in a boring class I usually take a sheet of paper out and start creating jazz chord progressions. It's much more challenging and interesting to do that than Sociology!
    That was a solid, train-of-thought type article. I definitely do some of the things you've mentioned. (Said in Bjork's voice, "Everything is music!")